Compassion in World Farming

Friday, 29 January 2010

Favourite song meme

Scrummycupcake has tagged me for a favourite song meme. How difficult is that!! Picking a Top Ten is pushing it, but to pick just one song is near impossible. So it's taken me a couple of days to think about it & one song keeps popping up in my head & heart repeatedly.

So, my favourite song is............... Push the Little Daisies by Ween. Not heard of it? Well, I must admit not many people have when I mention it. I first heard it on Radio 1 years agon when my lads were little & it was one of those songs that just grabbed me instantly & I knew I just had to have a copy of it! It was very hard to get hold of but I remember, after trudging round lots of music stores, finally finding it in HMV in Birmingham somewhere.

There aren't any soppy, sentimental reasons for me loving this song (I know that's unusual for me!), except it does remind me of fun times when my lads were toddlers. It's just the one song that always puts a huge smile on my face & I just have to turn it up LOUD> LOUD>LOUD & whirl around the room to it! It's a happy, hippy kinda song with an enchanting childlike quality to it. You'll either love it or hate it! Here it is:

Now I tag John at Going Gently, Jess at Lavender & Thyme, Jane at Aromatic & my brother Bruce at New(ish) Life in Scotland.
Sorry guys - this one's tough!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


This post has been a work in progress for almost a week.... I almost didn't share it, but I think you're used to emotional ramblings from me by now!

Since opening my heart to a Pagan path my life has instantly become more beautiful. All the thoughts & senses that I have suppressed & hidden inside are now free. It's as though all my life I have contained my soul, my inner being, within a box & I've kept it controlled & done it harm. I have never before had the self confidence to open that box, but now that I have sunshine is pouring into my being! Things have changed in my life. I have a warmth inside me that brings me comfort & strength even at times of stress or sorrow. I understand with humility my place in this Universe & my duty to the Goddess / Mother Earth. I feel more connected than ever to the elements of Earth, Water, Air & Fire, to Nature, to the Moon & the tides & to the turning of the Seasons. I rejoice in all that has been revealed to me & I have a passion to learn & follow this path I have been shown to the full.

I am questioning lots about myself, or more correctly my life choices. After years of on / off vegetarianism I have now committed myself to a vegetarian diet, with the intention of also dropping dairy products & only eating my own free range eggs as an animal product. I am not against eating meat as such, but modern farming methods deeply trouble me & the cruelty many farm animals are subjected to upsets me immensely. I also know that I personally couldn't kill an animal for food, especially as I don't need to to live a healthy life.

In studying my life under a magnifying glass I can see how badly I have fallen into the traps of modern consumerism. I thought I was relatively eco-friendly as I recycle, compost, grow my own veg, monitor & reduce our energy usage, etc., etc. But I look at all the things I have bought from the supermarket recently & the potential harm the products are doing to Mother Nature & the planet scream out at me. When I was younger I was heavily into animal rights - so why now is my bathroom full of shampoos, soaps & chemicals that at best I'm not sure are tested an animals & at worst I know full well are tested in this way. It's not just toiletries & cleaning products either. I do buy Fairtrade when I see the label, organic sometimes if it's not too expensive, but shamefully a look in my food cupboard reveals items that have probably caused damage to the environment either through dirty air or road miles or in the chemicals & pesticides used to produce them. Clearly I have lost my way here! I'm not pretending for one minute that from this moment on I'm going to be a saint, but I'm certainly going to take a closer look at what I put into my shopping basket & try to make sure it's contents reflect more positively my desire to protect & respect the environment, Nature, the animals & plants that share this planet with us & humankind itself.

Other things have happened to me. A greater ability to reach out to others, to find kind words, to chide myself for unkind thoughts, a heightened psychic awareness, a new positivity in my life & a surge of creativity. I want to learn to crochet, get out my pencils & paints again, write, cook - anything to express the whirling, beautiful, passionate joy & exuberance in my heart.

Here's one of my first efforts - lovely homemade marmalade. Pop over to Herne Garden's inspiring blog for the recipe. I used demerera sugar for mine, & reserved all the pith & pips removed by hand juicing the oranges & tied it all up in muslin. I popped this parcel in with the rest of the ingredients during the soaking & simmering stages, then removed it before boiling the marmalade. Making the marmalade was a joyful experience! I gave thanks to the God & Goddess for the fruit & breathed the gorgeous citrus scents right deep down into my lungs. I just beamed when the finished pots sat in a row in my kitchen & I planned who to share them with. I am, of course, completely biased but it is the most delicious marmalade I have ever tasted!

There - I've shared it with you. All my joy, my hopes & my plans. Whatever you have planned or enjoyed I hope you have found sunshine during this cold month of January.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


On Sunday it was Meggie dog's 4th anniversary of finding her forever home with us on 17th January 2006. A whole 4 scrummy years of having her in our lives! We adopted her from the Evesham branch of the Dog's Trust. You can read a bit about her story by clicking here. Meg is a big softy who loves lots & lots of cuddles. Bear hugs with Meg are one of my most favourite things. Her fur is silky soft & I love just burying my face into her soft warmth. The soulful, trusting look with which she gazes up at me is truly humbling. To me it is incredible that she is still able to give so much after such a horrible & frightening experience early in her life. The pleasure & joy she has brought us is immeasurable. My eyes are just filling up with pride & love for her as I type & my heart could just burst!
If you find yourself considering welcoming a dog into your life, please, please do go to a Dog's Trust rescue centre or other dog's home . I promise you will find your perfect pooch there & adopting a dog will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Good news!

I'm very pleased to report that Mr Dorking appears to be well on the road to recovery! He has been on his feet the past couple of days now & is thoroughly enjoying all the fuss & attention he's receiving. He is still coughing but his breathing is much better & his strength is returning. We have developed a kind of Lord of the Manor / Butler relationship. I bring him goodies such as warm pasta & carrot or rice & veg & he scoffs it up with relish & looks at me as much to ask what's for dessert! I am so happy I can't tell you. He is rather a special bird - a gentle soul & very wise for his young age. However, he has no table manners whatsoever. This is what is looks like when you share your en-suite with a recovering rooster (WARNING : the house-proud among you may find the following image disturbing!)


Also, when the bathroom is engaged & you have to use the en-suite loo it can be very off putting being eyeballed by him when you're sat on the throne! But keeping him indoors in the warm is what the fellow needs right now & as his antibiotics are going into his water he needs to be separate from the other birds for another couple of days after today. For those who are maybe thinking that it all seems such a lot of effort for a bird click here to read a previous blog post explaining exactly why I do this & why it is all very much worth it. You see they're not just birds to me. They are friends & companions & I believe that as they're in my care I have a deep responsibility for their well-being. The promise of Mr Dorking recovering, being able to watch him grow to full, magnificent adulthood & spend happy times in the Summer sat on the grass in his company is more than reward for the heartache of the past couple of days.

We've had another covering of snow here, so we awoke to fresh virgin whiteness again. But it meant we were faced with the problem we were dreading of having to get Middle son to school for an AS level exam when his school was shut to all other pupils & the buses weren't running. But wonderful hubby managed to make the treacherous journey in my car & they both returned safely much to my relief. Middle son is currently pacing behind me as I'm typing this as he has AS Chemistry tomorrow & apparently it helps him to recall & recite chemical equations & the such! I may need to buy him some new carpet by the time his exams are over! I'm so proud of him & the way he's coping with what is a stressful situation.

If you're also still suffering with snow / ice problems then I hope you are managing to stay safe & warm. Take heart as the Pagan Sabbat of Imbolc is just around the corner (2nd February), which celebrates the returning sunlight & the first stirrings of Spring.

Please do take care & don't forget to feed & provide water for the wild birds. It's really tough for them at the moment!

Monday, 11 January 2010

An anxious couple of days

After five days the snow & ice, although very beautiful, started to cause us some anxiety. Middle son had public exams to take today & despite his school being shut for 3 days last week we had been informed that even if it was closed to other pupils the exams would be going ahead. Which was not very helpful as at the time of receiving the message the road conditions were so bad that we really had no way of actually making the journey, unless we trudged several miles on foot being as we are right on the edge of a rural catchment area. A worry indeed, but not life threatening.

Then, when I let the chickens out on Sunday it became apparent very quickly that dear Mr Dorking was very, very poorly. He had been unwell on Boxing Day - just under the weather, lethargic with a bit of a cough. So he had a day down in the back garden being fed up with goodies to bolster him & then I treated the whole flock with Respite (a herbal remedy medication that I absolutely swear by if any of the birds get a simple cough or cold). He had appeared to rally quickly & be over his illness & even in the icy weather had been out & about & eating well, seemingly. It was such a shock, therefore, to find the poor fellow full of cold & so weak on his feet he could barely stay upright. I quickly gathered him into my arms & took him indoors into the warm for a better examination. As he breathed I could hear a bubbling sound & he had a clear discharge coming from his nostrils. He was sneezing & spluttering. I checked him all over to make sure his crop was OK & that he didn't have any parasites on him, but it appeared that it was just that his cold had returned with a vengeance. I filled a large box with sawdust & popped him into it & he sank down looking very feeble & ill. I carried him down to our en-suite bathroom which is dismantled at the moment after our leak. I knew he'd be peaceful & safe from the dogs & cats there. My eyes filled with tears. I knew he was in trouble. What to do first? Fluid it seemed would be more important than food at this moment in time so I fetched a pot of warm water, dosed it with Respite & thankfully he took a good drink from it. I listened to him snuffling & felt so wretched. How had I not noticed this coming on? I had felt sure he had recovered pretty well from his previous spell of illness. I gently stroked his feathers & told him that I was going to make him better & that he'd better not even think about dying on me because I wasn't going to let it happen. My tears spilled onto his feathers as I gently kissed him. I went out & filled a bowl with chick crumbs for him to see if he would eat, but couldn't persuade him to take even a morsel. His eyes were drooping, so I decided to let him sleep a while. I telephoned around to see if I could find a local vet, reachable in the snow, who would let me pick up some antibiotics for him, but being a Sunday it was hopeless. Not knowing what else to do for him I charged a rose quartz crystal for healing & asked angels to watch over him.

My thoughts turned to Andy, the friend who had hand reared him. What should I do? Should I let him know what was happening? Would it be worse for him to know & worry from afar, not being able to do anything? Would it be best not to say anything & hope I wouldn't have to break the news of a death later? My heart told me that it would be best to gently tell him, but just to make sure I contacted his partner David to check that I was doing the right thing. Andy telephoned straight away. It was so reassuring to talk to him. We went through Mr Dorking's symptoms together & double checked that I was doing everything he would do in the same situation. His words were those of kind reassurance & faith in my ability to do the best for Mr Dorking. He agreed with me it was likely that the cold weather had got to him & being weakened already he had just got a bad cold & not an infectious nasty as none of the other hens were showing any signs of illness. He gave me the name of the poultry antibiotic his vet usually gave him so that I would be armed with knowledge when speaking to my own vet. Kindest of all he gently told me that if Mr Dorking did die, although he would be very sad about it, it would not be my fault. He knows only too well how quickly a bird can go down hill & lose the will to live.

When I checked back on Mr Dorking it seemed that the drink & the sleep in the warm had done him some good & he was on his feet. I swept him into my arms & cuddled him to me as if I could somehow pour healing energy into him & will him better. Popping him back down I got him to take another good drink & this time he was interested in the chick crumbs, which are usually a good tempter if you have a poorly chicken. Pasta is a favourite treat of his, so I cooked him some spaghetti, coated it in a little vegetable oil & chopped it up for him. My did he tuck into it! I was delighted! I couldn't help but giggle at him & suggest that what he was suffering from was a case of 'man flu'. Although he was hardly out of the woods I was so relieved to see him appear more with it & I texted Andy to let him have the good news.

The rest of the day Mr Dorking spent mostly sleeping, although he did take more fluid & food, but at least he was sleeping properly on his feet with his head tucked under his wing & not slumped to the ground. It was all I could have asked of such a poorly chap. In the evening I popped a lamp on for him so that he could continue to eat & drink if he wanted to & then at bed time I made him a hot water bottle so that he wouldn't chill when the central heating went off. I just knew that if he made it through to the morning he would stand half a chance. But also steeled myself for the possibility that he wouldn't make it as he was still so weak & I could still hear the bubbling as he breathed.

The night was long, but every now & then I could the poor little fellow coughing & knew he was still with us. Morning eventually arrived..... I peeped in at him in trepidation. His dear sweet face was peering up at me. Hurray! Oh, he did look brighter! And he wanted out of his box. Yes! Yes! Yes! I knew this was a turning point. He was going to make it surely to goodness!

Although another centimeter or so of fresh snow had fallen overnight things had thawed enough during Sunday to make getting out in my car a possibility. Hubby's car was still stranded & not going anywhere being a rear wheel drive useless heap on our snowy & icy country lane. The morning then just vanished in a stressful whirl of checking for school closures, getting washed & dressed, getting the rest of the birds fed & watered, walking the dogs & sorting out a plan of action for getting the lads to school & me to work. Once Middle son was safely bound for exams at school on the school bus I had time to quickly make Mr Dorking comfortable for the day before hubby chauffeured Youngest son & me off to our destinations. I popped towels down on the en-suite floor & lifted him out of his box. After a cuddle & a good pep talk I popped him down to see how he'd manage on his feet. He was fine. I sorted him some more Respite dosed water which he took a good drink of & left him with a bowl of chick crumbs, layer pellets & some torn lettuce. I hated leaving him, but knew hubby would be around for a large part of the day to keep an eye on him. By the way, don't you think he's just wonderful to put up with having rescued ducklings, death wish chicklets & now a sickly rooster in the house? He does love them you see, even if sometimes he pretends otherwise. I telephoned my Vet Practice from work & on the way home was able to pick up 5 ready prepared syringes of antibiotics to add to his water for 5 days. Hubby told me Mr D had been up on his feet when he last checked on him & had clucked at him, but that he had made a right mess in the en-suite!

Indeed he had! He had chucked a lot of his feed about the place & of course he had answered Nature's call & pooped quite a bit, nice healthy poop though I was pleased to see. He had definitely eaten quite a bit of food as well as spilling lots. What was a right mess to hubby was good news to me! I was so happy to see him looking so much better & he seemed to be very pleased to see me. I gave him such a hug! I noticed the bubbling with his breathing had stopped & although he was still coughing/ sneezing it wasn't nearly so often. Big hug over, his antibiotics went straight into his water to get him properly on the mend. I went to make him a warm rice & carrot mash to help build his strength up. Here's how he tucked into it:

I think you will agree he is looking a lot less like a rooster at death's door & more like a boy who is going to pull through. So tonight I will fill Milly Bear the hot water bottle up for him again & for the next four days he will have to stay indoors while he completes his course of antibiotics & is pampered rotten.

Look at his darling face. I do love him so! Do please pray that he'll make a full recovery.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snowed in!

Yesterday it snowed quite heavily in a short period of time, enough to cause Youngest son's school to be closed at lunch time enforcing an early finish from work for me. By late afternoon we were surrounded by a Winter Wonderland! Hubby made it home safely from work, driving all the way back from Head Office in Surrey, but had to leave his car at the neighbouring farmhouse as he couldn't get down our driveway. Last night more snow fell & when we measured this morning we had 8 inches of beautiful, clean, crisp white snow lying all around us! The dogs all bounded out into the garden & came to a rapid halt! It was way deeper than it looked. Maggie just about managed with some extra bounce in her step but poor Mabel being of diminutive proportions (OK, she's a real short-arse!) had to bounce like a Tiggery thing to get about. Poor Polo soon grew heavy snow boots - great clods of snow sticking to the fine fur on her legs. Not good when you're 10 & have arthritis in your back legs! So it was decided that just big Meggie dog should go out for a walk in the snow drifts. She did enjoy it so & played like a puppy!

There was certainly no way that any of us were going anywhere fast, so whilst poor hubby had to work at the kitchen table the lads & I ventured out into this Winter Wonderland to dig the critters out & make sure they were all fed & watered & kept safe and snug.

Once they had been dug out of their houses the ducks & geese all ventured out. The ducks greeted the snow like excited children, the geese a little grumpier as they couldn't get to the grass to graze. A good sprinkling of grated parsnip on the snow soon cheered them up. Big Cheese certainly didn't lose his smile over the chilly stuff!

However, we did discover that white ducks don't look so white in the snow!

Most of the hens were very sensible & stayed in their house which, although decorated with icicles on the outside, was cosy on the inside.

Snapdragon & Spicy the two young Welsummer cockerels, now feeling macho as they begin to mature, did bravely venture out - but not very far! Hattie was brave, or foolish enough to go further, but she hopped about very gingerly in the cold stuff.

The chicklets were all snuggled up in the shed & tucked into some corn in the afternoon to help them generate extra body heat to keep them warm overnight. Poor Cassie had another near death experience after Xmas that again I was thankfully able to bring her back from, so it has meant that the chicklets have had their heat lamp back on overnight. It just takes the edge off during the freezing nights. The cold doesn't seem to bother them one bit during the day time when they are their active & inquisitive selves!

Once the birds were all taken care of it was time for some fun, but I did get worried when it looked like this great big snowball was headed my way!
My sons made lovely snow people. I thought the one on the right looked a little magical, then later when I was snuggled up inside reading another enlightening chapter of 'Hedgewitch' it struck me that it was a little like a crude representation of the Horned God - was this a sign that witchcraft is the Pagan path intended for me? I have learned that witchcraft is a beautiful, healing path of Nature 'magic' based around worship of two main symbolisms of Nature - the Goddess, representing Mother Earth & the Horned God representing her consort, the Father of all Life. The Horned God I have learned, just like withcraft, is nothing to be feared or suspicious about & has nothing whatsoever to do with evil or the devil. The God's horns are a powerful image of vitality, wildness & life force - the same emotions the vision of a magnificent stag might bring to your heart.
I feel uplifted & invigorated by what I am reading & learning. I am also expecting some introductory literature on Druidry in the post to see how it sits with me. It's like a candle flame within my soul is suddenly burning more brightly with a beautiful white golden flame. A flame of cleansing maybe, to prepare me for my path. A flame that will light my way. I hope so.
The snow has brought other thoughts to me. Snow is so beautiful when it first lies on the ground, virgin & white. It doesn't take long for us to turn it to dirty slush. Mother Nature is at her most beautiful when untouched by our hand. It has made me feel more resolved to take a more active role in caring for this planet & being gentle to Mother Earth. I am resolved to grow more of my own produce this year, regardless of whether the garden is also home to chickens or ducks. I can use mesh to protect my plantings. I will try & be more eco-friendly in my daily life. I will write to my MP's urging them to make the right decisions when it comes to 'Green issues' & take part in campaigns. It may all seem like feeble efforts against the hugely daunting & frightening disaster that Global Warming is, but each & everyone must surely do something so that we can say to our children that we acted.
Whatever path you may be on or what plans you may have for 2010 I do hope that you feel inspired & ready to make a good start.
Blessed be x

Monday, 4 January 2010

A New Year and a Pagan path

I hope you all had a very Happy New Year. Did you see the beautiful Blue Moon in the sky? Did you make a wish?

Towards the end of 2009 I discovered a beautiful path along which I intend to travel in 2010. It was like a revelation to me, but it was something that had been right under my nose all along. I found a home in the Universe & friends with similar ideas, beliefs & faith. I have always felt a little bit of a loner, a bit of an oddball really. Lonely, yes it's a strong word, but the right word for it. Despite being fulfilled as a mother & wife & being loved as a daughter, sister & friend a corner of my heart has always felt a little lonely because I have never before met people with whom I could talk openly, freely & from my heart without feeling bashful & foolish. I am often teased about my intense love for my animals. In the past I have blushed a little when I have read back some of my more emotional blog posts. I have bounced from one 'fad'to another, touching on things such as Reiki & Crystal Healing but not appreciating their place in a much larger faith. One thing I am so blessed with is a loving & suppportive family, who have never ridiculed me in my various quests even if they have not understood or have maybe worried a little about me.

So what is my big discovery you will be asking? I have discovered that the words written across my heart & soul are Pagan words. It's not a case of becoming Pagan, I am Pagan in every fibre of my being. I feel & sense the elements of Fire, Earth, Water & Air all around me & wonder at all of Nature's great bounty. But I also feel a fifth element - the great Spirit. The Spirit of Life, of all things. I feel the turning of the Season's & notice the cycles of the Moon & the Sun & feel how they affect the land. I feel humility & understand that I am just a speck of sand in the great order of things, but I also understand that I have power & a deep responsibility to be kind to myself, to others & to the Natural World. I feel great pain at the damage that Mankind is doing to our beautiful planet. In quiet moments of meditation I can sense that there is another dimension to which we all will travel at the end of our current life's journey & I believe that Death is not the end of things, but rather a time of rebirth, hope & the beginnings of a new journey. I have felt through my own fingertips the power of healing. These things I have always believed, but I have never before quite been able to form them into words. Part of me has been a little scared I guess to embrace things that I do not fully understand. But now I know it is time for me to learn so that I can more fully & openly express my beliefs & feelings.

So now I am 'born' I am thirsty for knowledge. There are many paths within Paganism & I must find the right one for me. Reading about Druidry has resonated deeply with me. But I am also tripping happily through the beautiful pages of a book 'Hedgewitch' by Rae Beth about solitary witchcraft which has also felt comfortable with me.

I am very excited & hope you will follow me on my journey as I share it with you, even if these ideas may be alien to you or it may seem that I have indeed finally gone crazy! ;-)

Blessed be.